Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Tatlow Creek - Squamish, BC

I didn't sleep at all the night before. None of us could get out of work early on Friday and then we got stuck in that dreaded north bound traffic on I-5 so we didn't get until late. When we arrived at the Ashlu River festival I realized that I'd forgotten a tent, and we were camping in a field with tall grass with about million bugs flying around. I laid out a tarp, but only lasted for about 30 minutes before the bugs drove me to sleep in Ricky's car on the back seat in the fetal position. I was also nervous about the run we were going to do the next day...Tatlow Creek. After watching every scrap of footage on the world wide web I was fired up to get on this run. I couldn't have asked for a better crew to do this run with, which consisted of Andrew Oberhardt, Erik Schertzl, Myself (Matt Thomas), and Chris Tretwold. Fortunately for us Chris had done the run just a short time prior and his memory of this run would prove to be invaluable. I couldn't imagine trying to do this run without someone who had done it before.

Saturday morning, August 19, 2005, I woke up early partly because I was so uncomfortable in the back of Ricky's rig, and partly because the anticipation of what the day would bring was almost unbearable. Once everyone else got up we loaded up Ricky's rig piled and in and drove in silence until we reached the point where the fun would begin. That point turned about to be where we turned off the Ashlu River Road to head up to Tatlow Creek.

The picture below is the turn off for Tatlow Creek, which you reach after driving for a 1/2 hour or more up a marginally passable dirt road.

The turn off for Tatlow Creek

Photo by Matt Thomas

This is where the fun begins. Chris brought some lumber to help build a ramp to get our shuttle over this spot. If you can't get through here it is a long walk to the put-in.

Ricky expertly negotiates the crux for the put-in

Photo by Matt Thomas

The action does not let up on this run until you make it to this pool. Right around the corner just out of sight is one of the best boofs on the run, which lands in the pool right above this. Notice the rock inbetween the notch, this is the gauge rock. The level here is a low flow, and I wouldn't want to do this run any lower than the level we had. You'll have to consult someone else on what is too high for this run, I would think that if that rock is creating a hole then it's probably too high.

The take-out pool

Photo by Matt Thomas

The Crew: Andrew(Kramer), Ricky, Chris, and Matt (from left to right)

Photo by Matt Thomas

The first series of drops involves a long sketchy scout where you have to crab walk across a log over a crack in the canyon wall that's about 30 feet deep. I'm not much of a climber so I found it terrifying, which is a little unnerving when it's the first scout of the day. Just so you know the scouting and portaging on this run is one of the scariest things about doing this run. I just have to say that blue berry bushes saved my life countless times during scouts and portages.

The first series of drops involves 2 slides that were pretty straightforward that then lead into a 20 footer. Just after the 20 footer is the first of 3 rather large slides. This is smallest of the 3 and it's in the 30 foot range. The line looked like you might drive your left shoulder into the rock wall so it took some time looking at it to see if it would actually go. Andrew stepped up and probed it and then we all ran it.

Looking for some courage

Photo by Matt Thomas

Andrew probing the first biggie

Photo by Matt Thomas

Matt lining it up

Photo by Andrew Oberhardt

Chris looking good

Photo by Andrew Oberhardt

The picture below is one of the only stretches on this run that doesn't have a significant horizon line. Just around the corner is the big portage that involves some rope work and rock scrambling. This is where Chris's memory of the run really came in handy, thanks Chris. I couldn't imagine running this run without someone who knows it. The portages and scouts are plentiful, and are not straightforward at all. There are some must make eddies on this run and knowing the location of those eddies are is critical.

Chris and Andrew on the only boogie water on Tatlow

Photo by Matt Thomas

The next picture is looking upstream from just above the scariest drop on this run.

Ricky admiring the scenery

Photo by Matt Thomas

The next series of picture are of the crux of the run, or at least the mental crux. This drop scares the crap out of you when you first look at it. It's called wall drug. If you look closely at the next picture you can see a rock wall in the distance. That wall comes straight up from the river about 35 feet below the horizon line.

The look on Ricky's face here pretty much sums up what everyone else was feeling at this moment. Chris had just done this run so he wasn't quite as nervous as the rest of us. The scout is kind of scary as well, you have to rock climb up the wall just to the right of where Ricky is standing in the next picture and if you fall in you're swimming Wall Drug.

Ricky getting nervous

Photo by Matt Thomas

Chris had just done this run so he probed it, thanks again Chris.

Chris givin'er at wall drug

Photo by Andrew Oberhardt

I went next because I just couldn't stand waiting any longer.

Matt dropping in

Photo by Andrew Oberhardt

Then Ricky.

Ricky...wait for it...wait for it...

Photo by Matt Thomas

Andrew had the best line on this drop. BTW, Andrew had a clean run on Tatlow Creek that day. He didn't flip over once all day...nice work Drew. I hate that guy!

Andrew showing how it's done

Photo by Matt Thomas

There are a few more ledges below here and I ended up swimming in one of them, but self rescued myself and my gear. There's also another portage in there somewhere.

The last biggie is a 45 foot not so near vertical slide (~45 degrees). The drop above this had a suspicious looking hole, and we knew that one of our friends swam out of that hole at higher water and was barely able to rescue himself before swimming over this one. Needless to say we portage that drop and seal launched just above this.

Notice Chris at the top of the next picture and notice how small he looks.

Andrew spotting his landing

Photo by Matt Thomas

I went last which made the seal launch extremely difficult. I nearly fell in several times and had just sealed up my skirt when I started to slide in and luckily I was able to grab my paddle. I was way too close to running this drop without a paddle. Oh yeah, and the river left side of this drop that is just barely visible in the next picture is ugly. I don't know if you'd die if you went over there, but it would be bad...real bad.

Matt getting airborned

Photo by Andrew Oberhardt

Parting shot

Photo by Matt Thomas

The picture above is a portage or a recommended portage. I didn't get any more pictures of the rest of the run because, frankly, I was too tired. This is a big day, but I didn't stop grinning about how fun it was until...well actually I haven't yet. I can't wait until next Aug/Sept to get this one again.

Be looking for a video that should be posted in the next month or so.
Another great BC run slated for hydro development. So sad.

See the map at www.ippwatch.info
Hey--We are writing a guidebook with Tatlow in it and we like some of your pictures--can you email us and talk about letting us publish your pictures?

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]